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Ticks and Lyme Disease

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According to the US Department of Agriculture, 2017 will bring the highest number of ticks seen in years. Temperate climate change is primarily to blame, promoting less die-off of ticks in the winter as well as increasing feeding opportunities for their larvae in the warmer months.

Naturally, more ticks results in potentially more cases of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, which can cause serious and sometimes chronic health woes, which can include symptoms of fatigue, joint pains, headaches, and other neurological challenges such as memory loss, cognitive impairment and difficulty concentrating.

But there are strategies which you can undertake to reduce the likelihood that you will contract Lyme disease this summer. Prevention techniques include avoiding high brush areas and hiking or walking through the center of trails. Wearing light-colored clothing will help identify ticks and using long socks and close-toe shoes at all times as physical barriers is important. Consideration should also be given to employing products that contain permethrin on clothing and gear, such as boots, socks, pants and tents. Make sure that the product contains at least 0.5% permethrin. There are pretreated clothing now available which can last through several washings. If you are knowingly exploring in a tick infested area, you may also consider topical preparations of DEET, picardin or IR3535 to exposed areas of skin. Upon arrival home, examine your outdoor gear, coats, jackets and pets as potential vehicles for allowing ticks to get carried into your home.

Ticks must be attached to their human host for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit salivary germs so bath
or shower as soon as possible after coming home from the outdoors. Conduct a tick check using a full-body mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick infested areas. Parents should also check their children’s underarms, behind the knees, groin areas, inside belly button, and especially areas of hair including the scalp.

If a tick is discovered on you or your loved one, take extra precaution in carefully removing it using tweezers and grabbing the tick as close to your skin as you can. Pull upward slowly until it pops out.
Termed the “great imitator” because it emulates so many other diseases, Lyme can be tricky to detect and diagnose. It’s not uncommon for someone to visit several health care providers and specialists before receiving an accurate diagnosis. Conventional testing methods such as the ELISA and Western Blot tests are considered fairly unreliable, with many producing “false negative” results. If you suspect that you may have this insidious disease and would be interested in learning more about Lyme disease as well as other tick-borne illnesses, give us a call and schedule an appointment with our “Lyme Literate” Integrative Specialist.